Premises Security / Sexual Assaults

Eric has handled a number of lawsuits arising from premises security cases. These cases arise from people being badly injured or killed from assaults, robberies, or other crimes committed at shopping centers, hotels, apartment complexes, or other places of business due to inadequate security or poor decision making. In evaluating potential premises security cases in which inadequate security is thought to be the problem, Plaintiff’s counsel is advised to get crime statistics from the police barracks nearest the crime scene. These statistics may show that, in light of the number of crimes committed in the area where this crime was committed, the building owner or manager should have provided more security than was present at the time of the attack.

These cases typically require the testimony of expert witnesses regarding whether the property owner or manager violated the standard of care regarding the security measures, if any, that existed at the time of the attack. This calculus usually takes into account the risk of attacks at the premises. These cases often involve numerous depositions of both fact and expert witnesses and, thus, can be very expensive to pursue.

In one case that Eric handled, a grandmother was raped by an assailant in her apartment, which was one unit in a large suburban apartment complex. At the time she was brutalized, the apartment complex had provided only two off-duty police officers to serve as security guards. This despite the fact that the complex sat on over 40 acres and had crime statistics suggesting rampant crime. Eric took and defended over 20 depositions in the case and retained 4 experts (a security expert, an expert in lock and key systems, an expert in property management, and a licensed clinical psychologist who was also an associate professor at a university). After discovery was completed and motions had been filed, the case settled for a confidential amount during a mediation held at the courthouse.

In another case, Eric represented a client who was a paid guest at a Maryland hotel. After a week of work she stopped at the bar attached to the hotel to have dinner and a few drinks. She was given a “roofie” by a woman who once worked at the bar. That woman then got someone at the front desk of the hotel – who recognized her from her former job at the bar -- to give her the key card to Eric’s client’s hotel room even though Eric’s client was not in sight. This woman, and a male friend of hers, then brought Eric’s incapacitated client to her room. They used the key card she had gotten from the front desk to access the room, and took turns sexually abusing Eric’s client. The police conducted an investigation that could best be characterized as pathetic. Unsurprisingly, in light of the poor investigation, the state declined to prosecute the perpetrators. Eric took the case and sued the perpetrators first. He then deposed them. Because they were obviously lying, their stories were not consistent. Eric then sued the hotel for giving his client’s room key to someone who hadn’t paid for the room and did not have the permission of the customer who had done so.

In the interim, the sexual assaults were having a horrible effect on his client’s mental health. Eric used his trial lawyer contacts to find a superb psychologist (in a different part of the country where his client was from) who had considerable experience helping victims cope with having been sexually assaulted. This psychologist helped bring Eric’s client back from the brink (i.e., a suicide attempt), and also served as an expert in the case. Ultimately, after the period of the lawsuit called “discovery” was completed, Eric arranged for a retired Judge to conduct a private mediation. This mediation succeeded and the case was settled for a confidential amount. Eric’s client used the settlement, in part, to pay for past and ongoing psychological care. Throughout his handling of the case Eric was careful to be there for his client whenever she had questions or concerns about her case, or was simply doing poorly. To read a testimonial from this client, click here.

Eric is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and counts its Director, Jeff Dion, Esq., among his friends. In addition to litigating these cases, Eric has read numerous books and articles about them, and has attended seminars given by some of the best premises security lawyers in the country. These cases are typically hotly contested by experienced defense counsel. You do not want to have an inexperienced lawyer handling one of these cases for you or someone you care about. If you’d like to discuss a premises security case with Eric Stravitz, call him at 240-467-5741 or email him.